Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gasperini v. Center for Humanities, Inc. case brief

Gasperini v. Center for Humanities, Inc. case brief summary
518 U.S. 415 (1996)

Petitioner journalist challenged a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which set aside a $ 450,000 verdict in his favor as excessive pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 5501(c) (McKinney 1995).

Petitioner journalist was awarded $ 450,000 in compensatory damages by a federal court jury for the loss of 300 slide transparencies. Respondent's motion for a new trial was denied. The appellate court set aside the verdict as excessive, relying on N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 5501(c)(McKinney 1995) which empowered New York appellate courts to review the size of jury verdicts and to order new trials when the award was unreasonable.


  • The United States Supreme Court vacated the judgment with instructions to the appellate court to remand the case to the district court to revisit the motion for a new trial. 
  • The Court determined that the New York statute could properly be given effect in federal court, without detriment to U.S. Constitutional amend VII, if the statutory review standard was applied by the federal trial court judge, with appellate control of the trial court's ruling limited to review for abuse of discretion.

The appeals court's judgment setting aside the verdict as excessive pursuant state statute was vacated.

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